In the USWNT’s opening game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, six of the 11 starters were World Cup rookies: Naomi Girma, Emily Fox, Savannah DeMelo, Andi Sullivan, Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith.

Per U.S. Soccer, they contributed to what was the USWNT’s youngest World Cup starting lineup (an average age of 27.8 years) since 2007.

Sophia Smith scored two goals in her World Cup debut and assisted another by Lindsey Horan, leading the U.S. to a 3-0 win over Vietnam. Smith seemed so ready for the World Cup stage it was almost easy to forget that this is her first major global tournament; the 2022 NWSL MVP was one of the final cuts from the U.S. Olympic roster in 2021.

“I don’t usually get nervous, but I was nervous,” the 22-year-old Smith said. “I mean, it’s a World Cup.”

After the game, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski noted that while there may have been some nerves, the rookies performed as he expected.

“I thought Fox and Trinity were really good on the right side,” he said. “I thought Andi was a key figure in the middle of the field and regaining possession in some important attacks. And Naomi in the back, I thought she looked like she had three World Cups behind her. (She looked) so comfortable and flawless.”

As for DeMelo, who not only recorded her first-ever USWNT start but also just her second international cap, Andonovski said: “We felt like this was a game that (would) suit Savannah very much. I think that she did an incredible job in creating room and creating space for her teammates.”

Andonovski thinks the win should give the rookies a confidence boost heading into the rest of the World Cup tournament, including this week’s game against a much tougher opponent in the Netherlands.

“Going into game two, they will go (in) a little more encouraged, less nerves, no stress,” Andonovski said.

Smith expressed a similar sentiment. “It honestly just makes me more excited for the next game,” she said.

Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus broke the women’s 400m freestyle world record — and defeated American rival Katie Ledecky and previous world record-holder Summer McIntosh of Canada — at the 2023 World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, on Sunday.

Titmus, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the event, led from 100 meters and ultimately clocked 3:55.38, cutting seven-hundredths off McIntosh’s world record and touching the wall more than three seconds ahead of Ledecky (3:58.73). New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather claimed bronze, while the 16-year-old McIntosh placed fourth.

Titmus, Ledecky, and McIntosh are the three fastest women to ever swim the 400m free and the event was billed as the ‘Race of the Century’ heading into this week’s world championships.

Ledecky owned the world record in the event from 2014 until last year, when Titmus claimed it for herself at Australian Championships. McIntosh then took it over at Canadian Trials in March.

“It wasn’t something (breaking the record) that I had my mind on for this meet,” Titmus told reporters in Japan. “I just wanted to come here and try and swim the way I know I’m capable of. I knew the only way to win — I believed — was to try to take it out (fast) and whoever had as much fight left at the end was going to win it.”

By taking silver, Ledecky claimed the 23rd world championship medal of her career, extending her mark as the most decorated female swimmer in world championship history.

“I think you could just see the world record coming. It’s been a very fast year of swimming and it was kind of predictable that it would be a really fast field,” Ledecky said. “I can’t really complain. My stroke feels good. I feel good in the water. I think all year my 800 has felt better than my 400, so I’m excited about the rest of my week.”

Just Women’s Sports is here with your daily World Cup Digest, breaking down all of the biggest storylines from each day of action in Australia and New Zealand.

Today’s top World Cup story: Sweden escapes upset thanks to 90th minute goal

Sweden pulled off a dramatic, come-from-behind victory on Sunday in its World Cup opener against South Africa. Amanda Ilestedt scored the game winner in the 90th minute to secure a 2-1 victory and 3 points for Sweden, ranked No. 3 in the world.

While Sweden controlled possession for much of the game, No. 54 South Africa nearly pulled off a major upset in rainy and misty conditions at Wellington Regional Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand.

Three minutes into the second half, and with Swedish players looking as if play hadn’t yet resumed, South African striker Hildah Magaia capitalized on a rebound to make it 1-0. But Magaia injured herself in the process, falling hard into the back of the net, and was ultimately subbed out a few minutes later.

Sweden notched the equalizer in the 66th minute. A cross in the box initially appeared to ricochet off the foot of a defender, but the goal was ultimately credited to Fridolina Rolfo.

With the two teams even, Ilestedt notched the game winner in the 90th minute, capitalizing off of the 11th corner of the night and heading the ball past the fingers of goalkeeper Kaylin Swart. (A video highlight of the game winner is embedded below.)

South Africa managed to secure a corner during the six minutes of injury time that followed, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

With the win, Sweden continues its group play streak. The Swedes haven’t lost a group game at the Women’s World Cup since 2003. Meanwhile, South Africa — which made its Women’s World Cup debut in 2019 — is still searching for its first ever point after losing all three group stage games four years ago.

In the lead-up to this year’s Women’s World Cup, the South African team — nicknamed Banyana Banyana — boycotted a World Cup send-off game, citing issues with its federation after a $30,000 FIFA payment had not been included in player contracts. Ahead of their tournament opener against Sweden, South African captain Refiloe Jane told reporters that disputes with the federation had been resolved prior to players arriving in New Zealand.

Today’s World Cup results

  • Sweden 2, South Africa 1
  • Netherlands 1, Portugal 0
  • France 0, Jamaica 0

More World Cup news

  • Jamaica held France to a scoreless draw, a remarkable performance for a Jamaican team that criticized its federation ahead of this year’s tournament, citing issues with training facilities and compensation.
  • In yet another close game, the Netherlands, the 2019 runner-up, defeated World Cup debutant Portugal, 1-0. The game winner, scored by Stefanie van der Gragt, came in the 13th minute.

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is underway. To help you stay up-to-date on news, game schedules, roster updates and more, Just Women’s Sports has created this World Cup hub. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can keep tabs on the latest news and updates from Australia and New Zealand.

Latest World Cup News

July 23, 2023:

July 22, 2023:

July 21, 2023:

July 20, 2023:

July 19, 2023:

How to Watch the 2023 World Cup

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup began on July 20 and runs through August 20. A complete tournament schedule can be found here.

WWC Scouting Reports

Who made the 2023 U.S. World Cup roster?

Here is the U.S. Soccer roster for the 2023 Women’s World Cup:

Goalkeepers (3)

Defenders (7)

Midfielders (7)

Forwards (6)

If you want to learn more about the 23 players who made the USWNT by experience level or their NWSL team, we’ve got you covered:

What about WWC rosters for the rest of the world?

Which USA players are missing the Women’s World Cup?

Injuries have sidelined quite a few players from this summer’s tournament, while other athletes have fallen out of favor with the national teams since the 2019 World Cup. Here are a few resources on the topic:

Who are the USWNT captains?

With Becky Sauerbrunn absent due to injury, U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski selected Lindsey Horan and Alex Morgan to serve as co-captains. Read more about their selection here.

For the latest news and analysis, follow our dedicate homepages for the USWNT and the Women’s World Cup.

2023 Women’s World Cup Groups and Tournament Format

The Women’s World Cup field expanded from 24 teams to 32 teams for 2023. The 32 teams are split into eight groups of four:

  • Group A: New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland
  • Group B: Australia, Ireland, Nigeria, Canada
  • Group C: Spain, Costa Rica, Zambia, Japan
  • Group D: England, Denmark, China, Haiti
  • Group E: United States, Netherlands, Portugal, Vietnam
  • Group F: France, Jamaica, Brazil, Panama
  • Group G: Sweden, South Africa, Italy, Argentina
  • Group H: Germany, Morocco, Colombia, South Korea

The top two teams from each group will advance to a 16-team bracket for the knockout rounds. More information about the tournament format and tie breaking procedures can be found here.

In the lead-up to the 2023 World Cup, one of the biggest questions USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski faced was, if Julie Ertz didn’t return, who could play the No. 6 position?

Without Julie Ertz — who was absent from the national team for nearly two years, due to injury and then maternity leave — Andonovski tried out a few options for the defensive midfielder position, from Andi Sullivan to Taylor Kornieck to Kristie Mewis. But it was clear that Ertz, the team’s only true No. 6 in recent years, was missed. And so, when Ertz made her last-minute return to the national team ahead of the World Cup, it felt like a given that she would return to that spot.

But on Friday, when the U.S. lined up against Vietnam for its tournament opener in Auckland, New Zealand, Ertz was stationed at center back, playing alongside World Cup rookie Naomi Girma.

Andonovski said that, after veteran defender Becky Sauerbrunn was ruled out of the World Cup with injury, he started thinking more seriously about moving Ertz back.

“When we knew that Becky is not going to be able to make it, that’s something we started looking into even deeper,” Andonovski told reporters after the U.S. team’s 3-0 win over Vietnam. “We had a conversation with Julie before we even tried, did a lot of work before we got into (pre-World Cup) camp in terms of video analysis.”

But Andonovski declined to specify whether Ertz will stay in that position for the rest of the World Cup tournament.

“I think that today it showed how good she can be in the backline in possession and out of possession. So I’m glad we made that decision and I know that the back line is just going to get better and better going forward,” he said.

“It was great playing with Julie — a lot of communication, she has so much experience back there,” Girma told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think us developing our partnership and our relationship will be huge.”

Ertz returned the praise onto her new defensive partner: “Nay’s world-class as well, so that sure helps for me getting back after not playing there in a while.”

Just Women’s Sports is here with your daily World Cup Digest, breaking down all of the biggest storylines from each day of action in Australia and New Zealand.

Today’s top World Cup news: Close games highlight group play

With the Women’s World Cup field expanding from 24 teams to 32 ahead of this year’s tournament, some people questioned whether the inclusion of less experienced teams would result in huge, lopsided wins (à la the USWNT defeating Thailand 13-0 in 2019).

But after three days of competition in Australia and New Zealand, that concern hasn’t panned out. Five of the eight nations making their World Cup debut this year have played so far (Ireland, Zambia, Haiti, Vietnam and the Philippines), with only one of those games coming close to “blowout” status: Japan’s 5-0 win over Zambia on Saturday.

Ireland managed a 1-0 loss to host nation Australia, the Philippines lost 2-0 to Switzerland, Vietnam conceded just three goals to the top-ranked USWNT, and No. 53 Haiti held No. 4 England to a 1-0 result.

Ahead of the U.S.-Vietnam matchup, American captain Lindsey Horan was asked if the USWNT was going to “crush” Vietnam, like her team’s 13-0 result vs. Thailand four years ago.

“There are not easy games that before you were just like, oh, this is going to be 6-0, 7-0 or whatever,” Horan said. “It’s not how it is anymore.”

Haiti’s World Cup debut against England, the 2022 Euros champions, was an especially close game. England’s only goal came in the 29th minute after a VAR review showed the ball grazed the fingertips of Haiti’s Batcheba Louis inside the box. Georgia Stanway took the penalty and Haitian goalkeeper Kerly Théus initially pulled off a dramatic save — but was called for encroachment as she left the line before Stanway made contact with the ball. The penalty was re-awarded, and this time, Stanway found the back of the net.

While England controlled 75% of the possession throughout the match, Theus made one save after another to keep her team in the game. Haiti nearly found the equalizer in the 81st minute, with Haitian forward Roseline Eloissant forcing English goalkeeper Mary Earps to make a sprawling save.

Haitian midfielder Melchie Dumornay, 19, was especially impressive in her World Cup debut. The rising star is set to join club team Lyon after the World Cup concludes.

Today’s World Cup results

  • United States 3, Vietnam 0
  • Japan 5, Zambia 0
  • England 1, Haiti 0
  • Denmark 1, China 0

More World Cup news

  • ICYMI: The USWNT, the two-time defending World Cup champs, opened its title defense with a 3-0 win over Vietnam. Sophia Smith notched a historic brace in her World Cup debut.
  • Denmark — competing in its first Women’s World Cup in 16 years — defeated China 1-0 to join England at the top of Group D. Danish substitute Amalie Vangsgaard notched the game-winner in the 89th minute, her bouncing header sneaking past Chinese keeper Xu Huan.
  • Japan defeated Zambia 5-0, with a brace from Hinata Miyazawa. Zambian star Barbra Banda found herself marked by three Japanese defenders for much of the game, a tactic that paid off.

Just Women’s Sports is keeping tabs on all of the NWSL players who are competing at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Of the 23-member USWNT squad, 22 players compete domestically in the NWSL (all save Lindsey Horan).

As of July 9, 2023, 57 current NWSL players — representing 15 nations — are slated to compete at the World Cup.

NWSL players competing at the World Cup were released from their teams on June 26. The NWSL doesn’t take a break for the World Cup, but teams will have a lighter workload during the tournament, with no games scheduled from July 10-20 and from Aug. 7-17. The World Cup window will also feature more Challenge Cup games in order to have less of an impact on the regular season NWSL standings.

See below for a team-by-team NWSL breakdown. Please note that list only includes players who are currently on NWSL rosters.

Angel City FC

  • Jun Endo (Japan)
  • Julie Ertz (USWNT)
  • Alyssa Thompson (USWNT)
  • Ali Riley (New Zealand)
  • Note: Amandine Henry was initially expected to compete for France, but she is missing the World Cup due to injury

Chicago Red Stars

  • Alyssa Naeher (USWNT)
  • Cheyna Matthews (Jamaica)

Houston Dash 

  • Michelle Alozie (Nigeria)
  • Sophie Schmidt (Canada)
  • Nichelle Prince (Canada)
  • Allysha Chapman (Canada)
  • Havana Solaun (Jamaica)

Kansas City Current

  • Debinha (Brazil)
  • Note: Desiree Scott was on Canada’s provisional roster, but wasn’t selected to the final World Cup team due to injury

NJ/NY Gotham FC 

  • Sinead Farrelly (Ireland)
  • Ifeoma Onumonu (Nigeria)
  • Kelley O’Hara (USWNT)
  • Lynn Williams (USWNT)
  • Kristie Mewis (USWNT)
  • Bruninha (Brazil)

North Carolina Courage

  • Denise O’Sullivan (Ireland)
  • Casey Murphy (USWNT)
  • Emily Fox (USWNT)
  • Kerolin (Brazil)
  • Mille Gejl (Denmark)
  • Rikki Madsen (Denmark)

OL Reign 

  • Quinn (Canada)
  • Jordyn Huitema (Canada)
  • Sofia Huerta (USWNT)
  • Alana Cook (USWNT)
  • Emily Sonnett (USWNT)
  • Megan Rapinoe (USWNT)
  • Rose Lavelle (USWNT)

Orlando Pride

  • Marta (Brazil)
  • Adriana (Brazil)

Portland Thorns FC 

  • Adriana Leon (Canada)
  • Christine Sinclair (Canada)
  • Hina Sugita (Japan)
  • Raquel Rodriquez (Costa Rica)
  • Sophia Smith (USWNT)
  • Crystal Dunn (USWNT)

Racing Louisville FC 

  • Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa)
  • Uchenna Kanu (Nigeria)
  • Alex Chidiac (Australia)
  • Savannah DeMelo (USWNT)
  • Ary (Brazil)
  • Wang Shuang (China)

San Diego Wave FC 

  • Kailen Sheridan (Canada)
  • Sofia Jakobsson (Sweden)
  • Naomi Girma (USWNT)
  • Alex Morgan (USWNT)
  • Emily van Egmond (Australia)

Washington Spirit FC 

  • Marissa Sheva (Ireland)
  • Ashley Sanchez (USWNT)
  • Andi Sullivan (USWNT)
  • Trinity Rodman (USWNT)
  • Aubrey Kingsbury (USWNT)
  • Riley Tanner (Panama)
  • Gabrielle Carle (Canada)

After winning the women’s 100m at USATF Nationals, Sha’Carri Richardson repeated a line that has guided her 2023 season: “I’m not back. I’m better.”

By winning the race at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, Richardson earned a spot at August’s World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, which will be her first major global championship. (Video of Richardson’s 100m win is embedded below.)

Richardson burst onto the scene in 2019 when set broke the 100m collegiate record at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships. She turned pro days later, but went on to place eighth at USATF Nationals, missing that year’s world championships.

Two years later, Richardson entered the 2021 season looking like the Olympic favorite. She won the women’s 100m at U.S. Olympic Trials, but that result was voided — and her Olympic spot revoked — after she tested positive for marijuana (which is banned in-competition).

Richardson struggled in 2022, missing out again on world championships after she was eliminated in the first round of the 100m at USATF Nationals. The Texas native later said she was dealing with injury.

But 2023 has been Richardson’s year. She opened the outdoor season by beating a stacked field — including five-time Olympic medalist Shericka Jackson of Jamaica and two-time Olympic medalist Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain — to claim her first Diamond League win.

“I found my peace back on the track, and I’m not letting anything or anybody take that anymore,” Richardson said then.

During the preliminary round of the 100m in Eugene, Richardson clocked 10.71 — a new personal best and the fastest time by an American woman in 12 years. Only Jackson (10.65) has run faster this year.

While Richardson didn’t have the best start in the 100m final, she made up for it with a fierce kick, outsprinting Brittany Brown and Tamari Davis, who will also make their world championship debuts in Budapest. Richardson also has a chance to qualify for August’s World Championships in the 200m; she posted the fastest time in the preliminary round. The women’s 200m semifinals and final are on Sunday night.

Over the weekend, Richardson also took to Twitter to blast coverage of USATF Nationals and streaming issues on USATF.TV. She went on to call out FloTrack after the outlet tweeted “That’s how we do it!” about her 100m win.

Richardson replied with a GIF of Eddie Murphy from the 1999 movie Life: “We?!”

After Crystal Dunn was cut from the USWNT roster for the 2015 World Cup, Megan Rapinoe was there to support her.

“She was somebody who just welcomed me so much, (with) open arms,” Dunn reflected on Saturday after Rapinoe announced that she plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2023 NWSL season.

“(Pinoe) is an incredible person, human being, friend, teammate,” Dunn said in a video posted to Twitter by Women Kick Balls, getting choked up. “I just love her so much. She’s been so key for me in my career.”

Dunn said she made Rapinoe a promise heading into the World Cup year.

“One thing I did tell her at the beginning of this year is, ‘I have no idea if this is your last one, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to get myself into a place where I can help this team win. And, obviously, send her off the way she deserves (as) the queen that she is.”

Alex Morgan echoed that sentiment. The newly announced U.S. co-captain told reporters that when Rapinoe texted the group, she immediately knew how to reply: “Well, now we just have to win the whole damn thing.”

Zambia had already pulled off the improbable.

During Friday’s friendly match against Germany, Zambia — ranked No. 77 in the world by FIFA — was leading 2-0 heading into stoppage time.

But Germany, World No. 2 and one of the favorites heading into the 2023 Women’s World Cup, wasn’t going down without a fight. Lea Schueller scored a header in the first minute of stoppage time to make it 2-1. Nine minutes later, German captain Alexandra Popp scored what seemed to be the equalizer.

But Barbra Banda, the breakout star of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, had other plans. The Zambian captain capitalized on a poor throw-in from Germany’s Klara Buehl, out-sprinted her defender and launched the ball over German goalkeeper Merle Frohms.

Banda’s incredible goal — her second of the game — secured the 3-2 win for Zambia (video embedded below).

The win over Germany should give Zambia a confidence boost ahead of its first-ever Women’s World Cup appearance. Zambia will compete in Group C against Spain, Japan and Costa Rica.

Note: Following Friday’s World Cup send-off game, the Guardian reported that Zambian head coach Bruce Mwape has been accused of sexual misconduct and that the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) referred an investigation to FIFA. You can read more about this development here.